Watching a popular TV panel discussion program recently, it struck me as a little bit tragic that one of the panelists used the term “Utopia” as part of an insult directed towards another panelist. This was nothing to do with the hilarious, if a little too close to the truth ABC show of the same name, the context was more an accusation that the person was “clinging to the idea” of a Utopia with regards to the topic of the night.

This exchange taught me two things – firstly that both panelists recognised what a better world looked like, but that only one of them truly wanted to make it happen.

It’s the unfortunate reality whenever someone trots out this type of remark – basically it tells us that while some people are willing to put energy and passion into striving towards a better version of society, we can only assume that others – while they agree that this vision of the world is “better” – after all they are the ones who used the word Utopia – are for some reason content living in a less than perfect, even broken world.

Why is that? Well I guess for starters, some people are naturally negative, lazy, or fear change – fixing it all is too hard. Maybe they just like chaos and the opportunities it brings, or see “better” as being dangerously left-wing, or conformist.

Or I dunno, perhaps it could be that they are simply making too much money at the moment, gradually grinding the world and it’s citizens into the ground, to ever stop and think about ways (or why) they could actually be a contributor to positive change.

In the meantime let me bore you with an analogy. Whenever I enter a parking lot looking for a space, I always drive as close to the store entrance as I can, hoping (but also half expecting) to find the “dream spot” right out the front. More often than not, I do. I know many people think the opposite – assuming a close spot isn’t possible, they will just start looking for somewhere a fair distance from the entrance, even though they’d rather be closer.

In other words, their default approach is to aim for something they don’t actually want.

My hope is that we can flip our mentality and learn to strive for an ideal, rather than meekly settling for inferiority, or at a minimum, the status quo. I don’t think its an unreasonable dream, for as Oscar Wilde so aptly put it; “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at…”

Derek Green,
Managing Editor, The Westsider



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